Twenty grants of up to $25,000 each have been awarded to iwi, hapū and hāpori as part of a work programme to support the revitalisation of vulnerable mātauranga Māori within the areas of ancestral landscapes and Māori-built heritage.
One of the recipients, Whangaroa Papa Hapū, will use the grant to protect at least 73 significant burial caves in Whangaroa in the culturally appropriate manner.
"There are very few living with knowledge of the customs and practices associated with their maintenance and protection," Robyn Tauroa, Project Coordinator, said.
"Our plan is to record this knowledge, through interviews and wananga, and retain the kōrero in one place where it can be accessed by future generations, while also sharing the kōrero collected through wananga with our hapū," Tauroa said.
Whangaroa Papa Hapū are a collective of hapū claimants who support each other through the Waitangi Tribunal land claims processes, and work collaboratively on kaupapa that impact their collective cultural wellbeing. They prioritise those that are at risk either physically or through the loss of mātauranga Māori.
"Covid has meant that we are unable to wananga on marae and meet in person with people who no longer live in Whangaroa," Tauroa said.
"This has also meant that the repatriation of ancestral remains at Te Papa have not yet occurred," she said.
The grants come from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, funded by the Government's Mātauranga Māori Te Awe Kōtuku programme, which focuses on initiatives to safeguard at-risk mātauranga from the ongoing threat of Covid-19.
"It's wonderful to see such a diverse range of projects supported through the Mātauranga Māori Grants Programme," Ellen Andersen, director/Kaiwhakahaere Tautiaki Taonga and Kaupapa Māori, said.
"The opportunity to see these iwi-led heritage projects happening all around the country is very exciting for us as an organisation and we look forward to working with these iwi, hapū and hāpori Māori over the next year as they undertake their projects."
Ten Ancestral Landscape grants support the retention and transmission of kōrero tuku iho as well as traditional practices within ancestral places in four broad areas: cultural mapping, maramataka, waka haerenga and kohatu.
Ten Māori Built Heritage grants support projects focused on revitalising vulnerable mātauranga Māori within four built heritage areas: traditional buildings, tārai waka, mahinga kai, and māra kai.
Other Far North recipients of the 2021 Mātauranga Māori Contestable Grants include Ngāti Kuri Trust Board (Kaitaia) and Te Mana o Te Aroha Limited (Matauri Bay).